Once the divorce decree has been finalized and filed with the court, clients will often call me and ask,
“What now? What happens next? Is my work with my attorney complete? So are we done?”
The short answer to that is yes. You have to consider the divorce process as somewhat transactional. Once the decree is filed, the relationship with the divorce attorney really comes to an end unless there is something that is further needed (i.e., modifications to the decree). It is not as if the attorney is itching to get rid of you, it is just that they have completed their scope of services with you until new services are needed. However, your work is not yet done. It is just beginning...
One of the reasons why attorneys call us in to meet with their clients for post-divorce wealth management is because we are very experienced in helping people transition from the words on the decree to their new life. When a decree has been finalized, and filed with the court, there typically is a list of action items that follow it.
Our firm helps clients establish what it is they need to get done right away, and what action items and tasks need to be completed in order for them to start moving on. We really focus on helping our clients transition from that very confusing time to a more stable time. That involves a lot of work, not just in the area of the portfolio, but in the areas of cash management, new tax situation, re-doing wills and estates and reassessing liability policies.
A simple example is the need to change beneficiaries on a life insurance policy, or changing beneficiaries on individual retirement accounts. Another is changing allocations of portfolios because there are no longer two risk profiles that need to be considered, or redoing their retirement planning based on one person’s needs instead of two.
The wealth management practice really is not just about reestablishing your asset allocation, but it’s about analyzing your current living situation in light of your new life and the needs that match your new life.
Typically, when someone gets divorced, they don’t know what to do next. I just advised on a case where we did not negotiate the divorce, but the wife was referred to us a couple years after her divorce was finalized. She still had not executed the Qualified Relations Domestic Order attached to her decree.
For two years, her money has been sitting in her ex-spouse’s 401K, waiting to be transferred to an IRA in her name. She hasn’t had access to these funds so that she can make investment decisions based on her needs and suitability. It was confusing, and sometimes when we are confused, we are paralyzed out of action; she needed guidance on how to move forward. Our firm clarifies that and sets out a path and course of action to help people transition, and not feel paralyzed by how to approach it.
Are you feeling like you are in that post-divorce limbo of not knowing what to do? If so, please feel free to give us a call or leave a comment in the box below. We would be happy to answer any questions you have.